Saturday, August 11, 2007

Stuff on the Horizon, and Two Pieces of Rope

Things have been a bit quiet in Trentsville, Qld. Not been a Trent story out in a while, and last year only saw two stories Marco's Tooth and Persuasion, the latter read by about three people. But things should change soon, I've made a few sales this year - none of which have been formally anounced so I'm going to not mention them yet, because I'm terribly superstitious - all of which I am extremely proud of.

Then there's The City and the Stony Stars my first kids' novel, and part of the Lost Shimmaron series, coming out next year. Don't forget to buy a copy in May 2008, it has not just one giant iron crow, but two, people, count them, two*. I also have an article on writing and anxiety out next month in the Writing Qld, which is something dear to my heart.

And I'm writing like a demon (which is kind of messy, things get stuck under my claws, but productive) I'm a third of the way through a pretty neat new novel - set in Brisbane and let's just say in that book, Brisbane isn't Australia's most liveable (heh, heh) city - have a rough first draft of an odd and somewhat bloody fantasy novel set in a wooden continent floating on Jupiter's red spot, which when I have another couple of months distance from it I think I can shape into something quite good, and have so many shorts nearing completion that I'm starting to lose track, not to mention the ten or so shorts I've got doing the rounds as we speak.

And then, there's the stories that I've been working on based on this. I love Woods 111, it's a thirty piece sculpture and I often go to Goma just to look at it. If you can imagine one of them floating in space, well a sort of void anyway, smudged in clouds of black predatory cranes and circled by a miniature sun, that swings so close to one side that it is uninhabitable, and so swiftly down the other face that the day is about four hours long, and the night seven**, then you have the setting for my stories about the City Vertical. Oh and at the top of the column are vast mile high trees, crawling with termites the size of beagles, and that have a tendency to topple and scrape away at the face of the city from time to time. It's pretty much a closed circuit environment, dependent on the guano from the cranes, and the miniature racing sun. This is the place I go to when I'm trying to avoid anything else, and I love it there.

Here's a bit from a new story called Rope, about a penitent who works one of the many rope-lifts that keep the industry of the city going. It's pure raw, unedited wank at the moment, but I'm having fun, and to share the wank, which after all is set on a very phallic column, I give you two pieces of rope:

It is a job of the moment. Everything is of the moment. I have seen a pigeon in flight, caught each sweep of its wings - as I worked the rope - watched it snatch a termite the size of my fist, out of the air, then, in turn, fall prey to the jabbing madness of the cranes that mark the sky like a haze or a shifting patch of black blood in otherwise shiftless water.

The woman came to me two days after the cranes devoured the pigeon, and one day after I had coiled my frayed rope aside and waited for its replacement.

"Peter," she said.

I did not recognise the name. Names are the last to go but even they are worn away, and when my time was done I would take a new name, and all the possibilities of the City Vertical, previously denied to me, would be open and unfurl like the frangipanis on the Avenue Decline. But you cannot think that way, you cannot hold the future in any regard, just the rope, or you will tumble to the haruspices so patient below -- waiting to read a different prospect in your spilled guts -- or hang yourself upon the rope itself.

"Peter, please."

I looked at her. "I do not know," I said. The words came, though it was dreadful hard to speak them, my voice a whisper: for all my strength was in my arms and my legs now. "I do not know that name."


I woke once to the gaze of a crane, flown in from the cloud of its brethren.

Its beak was mere inches from my left eye. Dark gimlet eyes regarded me with something close to irony. Cranes are clever they are certainly possessed of some Other intelligence absorbed, perhaps, in their long migration from wherever it is they breed and nest, because they are neither indigenous to Fall nor the City Vertical.

They descend out of the rubicund sky, their wings perfectly black. And they descend with a hungry cunning. The native birds, the sparrows and the currawongs are swift to get out of their way, to hide in the trees of the few unshattered boulevards, and peer out as hunted things peer, fearful.

I could feel its breath, and on its beak edge remained the hint of recent butchery, and I knew it could blind me in one darting movement. But it did not, merely dipped its head, as though to say it understood, that some revelation was drawing near, then it moved with steady, fearless grace around and away, over the lip of my station, its black wings extended. It dropped and glided from me, and I watched with the eyes that it had spared and felt relief. It is not uncommon to be blinded by the cranes. Some see it as a blessing. I am not so foolish.

*But only one frozen world inhabited by monsters and mad Godlings.
**And who can't imagine that.

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